This Week in Social is a weekly digest of some of the biggest stories in social media marketing news. These stories are discussed in greater depth on the Brave Ad World Podcast.
Foursquare Takes Steps Toward Revenue Model (Read more at AdAge)
Foursquare took some big steps this week in terms of moving toward a revenue model. It kicked off the week by following up on a move made earlier this month to allow mobile app users to send URLs for venue pages to non-Foursquare users. The same update has now been made to its Web service. This means anyone can share and view venue pages to see tips, ratings, photos and business information whether they’re a Foursquare user or not, and it follows Foursquare’s unstated strategy of becoming a ratings and local search service.
The check-in service also followed up on that move by expanding an offer program it launched in 2011 with American Express to include Visa and MasterCard. Now, when any card holder syncs their card with their Foursquare profiles, they’ll be able to pay using their cards and then have savings automatically applied to their accounts if they checked-in at the business.
Foursquare collects a fee for each offer redeemed, which could be a viable revenue model for the platform.
Burger King is kicking off the launched with a $1 discount on any $10 order.
Foursquare is doing two things here. First, it’s opening up the platform to be more of a tool for non-users to find local businesses they might like to visit, similar to Yelp. This increases Foursquare’s potential user base, which it needs. But it’s second move starts to position it as a loyalty network. Users have more reason than ever to continue to check-in to businesses to get deals and offers, which is valuable data for Foursquare.
Businesses can essentially use this as a loyalty program, offering different deals and discounts based on what they want users to do like check-in a certain number of times to receive the discount. Burger King could potentially offer a special for every fifth check-in using the credit card sync system. This feature was available before but not through a credit card beyond AmEx. Deals required businesses to train employees to implement them at the store level. Now, they can happen automatically.
Google+ Launches Social Sign-in (Read more at The Next Web)
Google+ is following the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter by offering the ability for users to sign into third party apps using their Google+ profiles. Much like Facebook or Twitter, users will have the option to determine how much content from the third-party app they want to post to Google+ by having users choose which circles they want to share content with.
Google+ director of product management Seth Sternberg contends that Google+ will allow users to be more selective in terms of what they share. “Google+ doesn’t let apps spray ‘frictionless’ updates all over the stream, so app activity will only appear when it’s relevant (like when you’re actually looking for it),” wrote Sternberg.
When users sign up, they receive a prompt that the publisher will be able to access their profiles, and the user can choose who will be able to see their activity, similar to Facebook and Twitter. Users can opt out of sharing completely if they want.
Posts that are shared are interactive. Users can open the automated posts and receive an experience specific to the app the post originated from. For example users will be able to interact by clicking actions like “listen,” “RSVP,” “check-in” or something else.
You can see Google+ sign on with some initial launch partners, including USA Today, Fitbit, Fancy and Shaz.
This new feature certainly makes the lives of active Google+ users easier as social sign-ins have grown in popularity as an optimal way to log into a service for the sake of convenience. However, Google+ also benefits as it increases its active user numbers. Every time someone logs in using Google+ that applies to Google+’s active user numbers.
Google+ also gets access to more data. Facebook’s used data generated from social sign-ins to target ads and gather additional data on its users.
Finally, it also gets Google+ in front of more people, which could build awareness of the platform.
Still, Google+ does have one significant challenge. Incomplete Google+ profiles permeate the network, which makes Google+ sign-on a less attractive feature for developers. They want to integrate the sign-on feature that will deliver the most data, and a complete Facebook profile is much more attractive than an incomplete Google+ profile. This also hampers the experience of users, which want their data imported for a better experience. Once again, the more data, the better the experience, and an incomplete Google+ profile won’t do much to enhance an app.
Facebook Delivers Ads Based on Offline Shopping (Read more at AdAge)
Facebook formally announced a deal with Datalogix, Acxiom and Epsilon that will allow marketers to target ads on Facebook based on offline shopping behavior. The previously rumored partnership means the data mining firms will apply their information to Facebook’s Custom Audiences Product.
The data comes from loyalty programs, which track user purchases paired with a user’s email address and/or phone number. That data can then be paired with someone’s Facebook profile. Facebook has claimed that it will not share personal data about users with marketers, and users can opt out as they can with any other Facebook ad. One example of putting this into action is delivering an ad for diapers to someone who recently purchased baby food.
Facebook’s also now working with BlueKai, which will allow brands to target users by cookie clusters from websites they’ve visited.
Marketers can already upload their CRM databases to create custom audiences to deliver ads to on Facebook. This takes Facebook to another level in terms of taking an external data point (loyalty card information) and implementing it into its internal advertising products for better tarketing. Facebook was already known for being able to deliver highly-targeted ads. Now, Facebook’s evolving by making advertising more data driven and allowing marketers to integrate Facebook advertising with other customer data.
Facebook Buys Atlas Ad Suite (Read more at AllFacebook)
Facebook finally pulled the trigger, and after months of rumors and speculation, it acquired Microsoft’s online advertising platform, Atlas. This brings Facebook head-to-head in competition with Google for display advertising.
Atlas is a platform that helps advertisers buy and manage ads, and the acquisition would position Facebook as a platform for advertisers to buy, sell, optimize and track ads beyond Facebook but across the entire Web as well. This would allow advertisers to merge traditional marketing tools with Facebook social data.
This is a lot like Google’s AdSense and with access to social data, Facebook has a point of difference. Although, AdSense is a very successful Google product that Facebook will have to catch up to in terms of technology, usability and market dominance.
Mark Zuckerberg has mostly stayed true to the idea that Facebook is not going to go after revenue in a way that alienates its users. This acquisition gives Facebook another way to generate revenue but outside of Facebook. Users won’t be inundated with more ads.
For advertisers, this allows for more integration with Facebook ad buying with digital ad buying as they’ll be able to see just how effective their spend is across online channels. Everything can be run through the same platform with a more integrated approach.
News Quick Hits
- Facebook updated its iOS app to have the ability to make free phone calls to users in the U.S. and Canada. The feature, which was previously available in Facebook’s Messenger app, is now available to a much larger user base and follows the shift in mobile users communicating over data instead of minutes. (Read more at Inside Facebook)
- Rumors have been circulating that paid YouTube channels are on the way, and a new report on the code for YouTube’s latest app update shows options for subscribing to and unsubscribing from paid YouTube channels. Paid channels may be close. (Read more at Mashable)
- App.net, the Twitter competitor that opted to charge users for membership, instead of sell user data and advertising, is launching a free membership program for people invited by paying members. The free subscription allows users to follow up to 40 people, store up to 500 MB of data and upload files of 10 MB. (Read more at PCMag.com)
- The two-and-a-half-year-old Instagram hit the 100 million active user mark this week. Six weeks ago the platform was at 90 million users. The growth shows that Instagram’s growth has not stagnated since being bought by Facebook or changing its advertising policy. (Read more at Huffington Post)
- Facebook is using a technology from the gifting app Karma, which Facebook acquired, within its Gifts app. The technology prompts users to give gifts based on keywords in a friends’ status update, such recommending a gift after a friend announces getting a new job. (Read more at CNET)
- Yelp has updated its iOS app to allow users to see friends check in at businesses within the local search results page. While Foursquare is shifting to becoming more of a utility akin to Yelp, Yelp is taking steps to make its platform more social, like Foursquare. (Read more at SocialTimes)
- Groupon fired Founder and CEO Andrew Mason this week after a dismal quarterly report in which the social couponing service missed Wall Street forecasts. (Read more at AdAge).
- Yelp will start integrating display ads in its mobile app with Taco Bell and InterContinental Hotel Group as the inaugural sponsors. (Read more at AdAge)
- To compete with Vine, the video sharing app Viddy has updated its iOS app with the ability to create videos up to 30 seconds long along with the options to start and stop recording over the 30 seconds and make edits to audio and video. (Read more at AppNewser)